'Low-cost' housing is low-cost for renters

Dear all-knowing, all-seeing and all-caring ones: Please help me understand what "low-cost housing" really means. Is it just a reduced rent for the residents or does it just cost the builder less money to construct the property? Is it low-cost because the builders and renters are subsidized by the taxpayers? Are the future residents screened and approved based on their financial status or can the "rich" live there also? There, I've used up my quota of questions. Any light (of course, energy-approved) would be helpful.

— Dennis the Grump

Dennis the Grump? Tell the truth: you're actually a strange hybrid of Dennis the Menace and Mr. Wilson, right? That would explain your "Why, why, why" approach.

Well, Mr. Grump, we'll take you through each one of your questions as concisely as we can.

To start with, it is low-cost housing from a renter perspective.

"A reduced cost would imply that the rent paid by the tenants would be reduced. Construction is construction. Brick costs a brick, and a 2-by-4 costs a 2-by-4," said Jason Elzy of the Housing Authority of Jackson County.

There are various sources of funding, both at state and federal levels. They vary from subsidies to low-income tax credits given to developers, who can take the tax credits in exchange for the low costs that ultimately gets passed on to renters.

"It's similar to a home mortgage deduction for homeowners," Elzy said.

As to your question about whether the "rich" can live there, no.

"In our particular programs, we do have income restrictions," Elzy said.

Typically, most applicants for units in recent low-income developments have been at an income level somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of area median income. The Housing Authority also has additional rental-assistance programs. Folks who make up to 80 percent of area median income are eligible for the programs.


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